SALT LAKE CITY - At this point a 2-4 record on the this six-game road trip would be a confidence booster, considering how the Kings have been routed in their losses on the trip.
Winning the second game won't be easy tonight against the Utah Jazz. Here are five things the Kings have to look at if they are to upset the Jazz.
1. Bad offense: Too often the Kings do not make their opponents work on defense. The first or second person that touches the ball shoots. And then the Kings, who are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, are on their heels after a miss. Some kind of offensive discipline is needed as the Kings are averaging 86.2 points in their last five games.
2. Mental toughness: the word around the league on the Kings is to jump on them early to take away their confidence and chances are you'll win. The Kings appeared to check out mentally against the Knicks in falling behind by as many as 50 points.
3. Bench production: Kings coach Keith Smart used Jimmer Fredette instead of Aaron Brooks. Fredette scored 14 points against the Knicks after the game was well out of hand. But overall, the bench has been a huge negative lately. Marcus Thornton has scored in double figures only once in the last five games. Thomas Robinson's effort has stood out, but the reserves have to provide more.
4. DeMarcus Cousins: The Kings' talented yet obviously unhappy center must put his feelings aside and play with maximum effort against Al Jefferson. These aren't the Washington Wizards so chances are the Kings can't expect to win with Cousins not fully engaged.
5. Defensive effort: Some of the Kings' showings defensively have been dreadful. Good shooters are left open, the perimeter defense is passive against penetration and the paint isn't protected. Perhaps having Sunday off gives the Kings the energy needed to put forth the effort needed to defend consistently. The Kings are allowing 104.6 points per game on the road trip.